Pricing copywriting projects

This blog aims to answer one of the questions that I always get asked by clients: How much does it cost?

Whenever I hear this question, my first response is to say ‘well, that’s a how-long-is-a-piece-of-string question!’

I can’t answer the question until I know exactly what will be required for the client.

A single product description can cost as little as a couple of pounds, and a whole website will be upwards of several hundred, so this is how I go about pricing my work.

Firstly I talk to my client at length to find out what they need.  For some clients, they have a very clear idea, and for others we need to dig into what they have, where they want to go, and then come up with a plan together.  For all clients, I need an understanding of who they are, so I can sound like them, not me.  I’ll also need to understand who they’re hoping to sell to, who their target audience is, so I can pitch the words right for that particular group.  (I’ve written more blogs about this too, if you’re interested. )

An hourly rate? Well no, not really.  I prefer to quote per project rather than per hour, unless my client has an open-ended piece of work that we can’t quantify into a set time-frame.

I know roughly how many words I can write in an hour, if I’m on a roll, covering a topic that I’m familiar with – but it is generally only my own blogs that flow like that.  For my clients, I need to put in a lot more thought, and research, and polishing, before I have text that I’m happy with. So, I tend to start with an estimate of how long it will take me to write the text that’s being asked for, and then add in other factors. There’s also editing time – after I’ve written something for a client there’s usually some back-and-forth while they correct or adjust things, and I make changes based on their suggestions. All this needs factoring in too.

So, pricing different types of work

There are three main categories of work – one-off projects, per-item work, and ongoing or retainer work.  One-off is projects like writing a website for someone, or a leaflet, or handling the text for a re-brand.  Writing product descriptions is priced per item, as is proofreading or editing something prior to publication.  Ongoing work is regularly required items, such as blogs, or newsletters, where we work out a number-of-items-per-month requirement.


To price one-off work, eg for a website, I look at the number of pages required, and the size of them; I look at the amount of research, discussion of your target audience, interview time, site visits, and other not-writing time that I’ll have to put in, and then give a price based on that.

It would probably be the case that writing a good tag-line for your business would take me longer than writing a thousand-word blog for my own business, because I’d need to factor in creating dozens of possible options that aren’t quite right, as well as the five words that actually make it to your business cards.

For product descriptions, and other work that fits the same shape (eg. Facebook ads or team description posts for a website), I’ll look at the number of words or characters required, factor in research time, and then give a per-item price.  I’ve found that creative people come to me with a list of, say 40 items, and by the time I’ve finished the list, there are mysteriously 42 items.  Creative people can’t help but create, and I have no problems with that, I just need to price per item so that I don’t end up out of pocket!  Some clients ask for a number of product descriptions initially, and then come back to me periodically for a top-up, after they’ve created more products to be described.

Editing and proofreading, because the words are already there, I price per thousand words, rounding up to the next thousand. The rate will depend on how much polishing needs doing.  If it’s been translated from another language and requires some serious work to get it into acceptable English, it’ll be a lot more than if it’s simply needs a bit of punctuation scattering around, and some tidying up.

Pricing regular work is similar to pricing one-off work, in that I need to include research time and polishing time, but also maybe the time it will take me to insert the completed blogs onto your website, or newsletters into Mail Chimp. Also, we’ll need to establish how many blogs you want per month, or how frequently your newsletter needs to go out, and factor that in as well.  For regular work I ask my clients to set up a standing order, per month, or whatever your cycle-length is, and we each have one month’s notice of cancellation.

So there it is – this is how I work out how long your particular piece of string is.  I’m sorry that I can’t give you an answer right now and say, yes, that will be a certain number of pounds, but now you have an idea of my thought-process when I quote for you. Please do give me a call if you have a project that you’d like to discuss, and we’ll take it from there.

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